Friday, December 7, 2012


In the realm of clichés, I am the queen. I’m not a cliché snob. I like them. They trip lightly on the tongue, come easy as pie, and are as clear as a bell. When they were first printed or spoken, they were right on or they never would have become clichés. It’s their overuse that does them in. I don’t know the exact number, but when they hit it, they become hackneyed and are demoted from expressive language to cliché.

It’s really not fair, for they are so handy. They fit the bill, are the bee’s knees, hit the nail right on the head. Truth is they’re often right as rain, fit as a fiddle, and sometimes even cute as a button. I like the ones that are tough as nails, or that make people mad as wet hens. For describing individuals they can’t be beat. Women are thin as rails, mysterious as Mona Lisa, beautiful as Venus, as big as a minute, and sometimes cuddly kittens. Men are lucky for they get to be Greek gods, tough as nails, slick dudes, and sometimes drunk as skunks.

Parenting is a rich domain for cliché. There’s tough love, helicopter parents, empty nesters, gender-neuter parenting. Weather is wonderful for it can rain cats and dogs and the driveway become slick as a whistle. And writing is loaded with clichés, especially my stuff. I think they’re here to stay.


  1. He was sweating bullets faster than greased lightning, flatter
    than a pancake and hotter than a pistol or a two peckered billy goat, because he was busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. He was hedging his bets and maximizing his leverage, because he was cautiously optimistic that as long as he had two nickels to rub together he’d be faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. However, the day was colder than a witch’s tit and it felt like everything was moving slower than molasses in January. He recalled the days when he ran like the wind and was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
    “Who rides for justice?” he asked. If the domino theory is correct
    then only criminals will have guns. “There’s trouble in River City,
    and something rotten in the state of Denmark.”
    “There’s no place like home,” he said, and home is where the heart is.
    But his elevator didn’t go all the way to the top floor because he wasn’t dealing with a full deck and was a few bricks short of a load.
    He figured he’d rather fight than switch because Winston tastes good like a cigarette should, and builds strong bodies in twelve ways. He was suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis, hemorrhoidal itch and dry, flaky scalp, but was reassured that fast actin’ Tanactin would give him fast, fast, fast relief. He’d been hit with the ugly stick and had a face only a mother could love. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and had fallen off the turnip truck yesterday, but he still had his girlish figure to think of. At least he had his health, and that was all that mattered. He didn’t have all of his cards on the table, and still had a trick or two up his sleeve. He knew he’d be sitting pretty and smelling like a rose, when his ship came in and the pigeons came home to roost. He’d be making $5000 a day stuffing envelopes in the privacy of his own home. “He was one toke over the line sweet Jesus”, but
    “that’s all right Ma, everybody must get stoned.”

  2. Some people do think you should avoid cliches like the plague but I am with you on this one. Sometimes it is useless to think outside the box because, well, we are all inside the box! And, like a kid in a candy store, you take whatever you can get in order to make your point understandable, whether or not it is low hanging fruit. So, thanks for taking the tiger by the tail Ruth and going out on a limb to make the case for cliches. At the end of the day, they will never be as dead as a doornail because every dog his its day. As luck would have it, even if the popular cliches come and go, there are plenty of fish in the sea. The best cliches even get recycled, perhaps because absence makes the heart grow fonder. I hope we will continue to create new cliches at the drop of a hat to easily express otherwise complex phenomena. It would be a shame to throw the baby out with the bath water!

  3. This was right on the money, Ruth!